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Exploring the Needs and Challenges of the Elderly Population

Introduction: Exploring the Needs and Challenges of the Elderly Population

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This essay aims to develop an in-depth understanding of normal ageing, the contribution of elderly to society, and health challenges that are commonly experienced by old age people. The main purpose of this essay is to understand the needs and challenges that elderly people used to face in terms of health and social care. With the passage of time and technology, the society in which we live is improving its living condition and healthcare service provision in several ways. Though in current times, elderly people used to face several challenges in society, there are several outdated stereotypes related to older people, which lead them to be isolated in society and marginalized in the community. Financial insecurity, disability, inability to do everyday work, and finding out the right care provisions can consider as some major challenges related to ageism. More specifically, it can be stated that the mobility and dexterity of a person used to decline with the age, which completing everyday activities are becoming difficult for older people. This can gradually lead people to take support from others and prevent them from being social or taking part in activities that they used to enjoy. On the other hand, it is often seen that healthcare is becoming complicated and disjointing for elder individuals, specifically those who are struggling with long-term health conditions. In such a scenario every individual needs additional care. While people are now living longer, the world of employment and retirement is not evolving at the same pace. Therefore many older people after a certain time face challenges to manage day-to-day finance and invest in healthcare. On the other hand, nowadays every single activity is being operated remotely- which seems to be challenging for the older generation to accustomed to online or remote working processes and leads them towards scams. In this essay, the focus will be given to negative attitudes that society used to showcase toward elder people and its impact on the mental well-being of the chosen population.

Discussion

Attitudes towards the elderly

In recent times, WHO or World Health Organisation has published a report about the negative and ageist attitudes of society toward the older population. According to the report, the practice of discriminating the older people or showcasing a negative attitude towards the chosen population is widespread, and this practice is impacting the mental and physical health and well-being of older people, negatively (Lin & Cui, 2021).

The report published by the “World Values Survey”, 60 per cent of the older population across the world does not get respect. More than 85,000 people in more than 59 countries have taken an active part in this survey which assessed the attitudes of older people across every age group (Phillips & McGee, 2018). According to the report, the lowest level of respect older people used to receive is living in high-income countries. This analysis also confirms that ageism is one of the most common practices; though the majority of people are still unaware of the subconscious stereotypes hold about elderly people.

Negative attitudes about ageing and towards older people have negative as well as significant consequences on the physical and mental health and well-being of the elderly population. With age, the individual used to lose the dexterity and ability to do regular activities. After a certain age, and a long-term illness can make elder people isolated from society and used to be discriminated from communities.

In such a scenario, older people used to feel the burden as they start thinking that their lives are becoming less valuable. Such stigma and social isolation put this population at risk of depression and anxiety (Musselwhite & Curl, 2018). Some recent surveys show that older people who used to hold such negative views about their own ageing, do not recover from disabilities and live on an average of 7 years less than the people with positive attitudes.

Understanding the needs of the elderly

In this section, the focus will be given to how older people used to experience challenges in their daily lives. Several factors can be considered as the main attribute of the challenges that elder people used to face. Below are some major problems that are being discussed:

  1. Physical health problems: one of the biggest challenges that older adults used to face after a certain age is related to their health. depending on the health concerns, the major health-related challenges that older people used to go through are:

  2. Heart disease

  3. Diabetes

  4. Anxiety

  5. Muscle weakness

  6. Loss of balance

  7. Malnutrition

  8. Inconsistence

  9. Hearing loss

On the other hand, Healthcare for the elderly can be confusing and fragmented, especially for individuals who are coping with chronic ailments. To coordinate the administration of medication and other forms of treatment, the care requires a wide range of various medical specialists and clinics.

Financial problems of the elderly

According to a survey report, published by the National Council on Aging or NCOA, it is seen that:

  1. On average, one in every three older individuals with the age of over 65 years used to go through economical insecurity, specifically incomes below 200 per cent of the FPL or Federal Poverty Level (Deusdad, Pace & Anttonen, 2016)

  2. Approximately, 2.5 million of older people across the world come under SSI or Supplemental Security Income and receive $511 on every month

  3. In 2016, 65 per cent of older people with age 65 years or more had huge household debts. The median debt of the senior-led households in 2017-18 was $30,050 (Kampfe, 2015).

  4. In 2020, 5.2 million older people in America were facing the threat of malnutrition and homelessness (Kampfe, 2015).

Apart from these two major challenges, difficulties to find out the right care provision, and access to proper healthcare services can consider another major problem related to ageism and elderly people in society.

Physical challenges the elderly face and solution

Old age is a period of physical challenges and decline. Even if one does not immediately lose their eyes, teeth, and everything else, they do start to physically deteriorate. The physical state is influenced by a person's lifestyle, genetic makeup, and environmental influences. Vicissitudes of life, poor diet, malnutrition, infectious diseases, intoxications, gluttony, insufficient sleep, emotional stress, overwork, endocrine problems, and adverse environmental factors like heat and cold are some of the often occurring secondary causes of physical decline.

In this respect, Chang et al. (2020) have mentioned that many surveys suggest that, giving care to older people used to affect negatively on the labour market, increasing the use of part-time work and absence from work. In support of this, Bodner, Palgi & Wyman, (2018) has mentioned that ageism and outdated social norms are resulting in the isolation and marginalization of older people in both rural and urban communities. In this scenario, new and creative ways are essential that can offer the opportunity for lifelong learning and meaningful engagement to older people across their lifespans. The Governments of every higher to middle-income country can set financial grants or initiatives to invest in implementing products, programs and services in health care which can enable people to maximize their strength, balance, fitness, independence, and mobility as they age. On 27th April 2009, The UK government published The Equality Bill to stop unlawful practices like discrimination against the ageing population while offering services or carrying out social functions (www.ageuk.org.uk. (2019). Education to the people can also be considered as another solution to meet the physical challenges being faced by older people in society.

Emotional and social challenges the elderly face and solution

According to the ageuk.org and NHS. In the UK, one in every four older people is now living with a common mental health condition. The statistics also show that 7 per cent of the people who are used to be referred to NHS for counselling every year, who are 65 years or more in age. And this percentage has increased to 12 per cent in 2021; 15 per cent of the older people in the UK are now receiving mental health care from the NHS (www.ageuk.org.uk. (2019). The mental and emotional health conditions in elderly people are not an inevitable part of ageing. Though, social isolation and discrimination in the community used to lead people with age to mental depression. Many surveys carried out by ageuk.org and ONS shows that older people in society are likely to experience the mental health challenges that any other population or young population, yet their needs used to be overlooked. The most common mental health condition that older people use to face is depression, which affects 22 per cent of the male population and 30 per cent of the women population the age of 65 years or more, which is again followed by anxiety (Chang et al. 2020). 40 per cent of the older people in the UK are now living in care homes with depression, and 30 per cent of the older carers experience depression at some point (Phillips & McGee, 2018). In such a scenario, the foremost recommendation that can be suggested is:

  1. Provision for proper care and support to the elder people based on their basic needs

  2. Encouraging older people to stay positive and take an active part in exercise, social events and create a social connection with their surroundings

Conclusion

In order to conclude this essay has focused on the current challenges being faced by elderly people in current society. An in-depth analysis of the essay showcased that, financial risks, health-related issues and social discrimination or ageism are the foremost challenges being experienced by older people in society and this, in turn, leads this population to the risk of depression, anxiety and social isolation. In this essay, the focus has been given to governmental initiatives, education to the society and implementation of new and improved technologies in health care. These are being suggested as a recommendation to provide a healthy livelihood to the older population in society.

References

Bodner, E., Palgi, Y., & Wyman, M. F. (2018). Ageism in mental health assessment and treatment of older adults. Contemporary perspectives on ageism, 241-262.https://library.oapen.org/bitstream/handle/20.500.12657/27836/1002169.pdf?sequence=1 - page=267

Chang, E. S., Kannoth, S., Levy, S., Wang, S. Y., Lee, J. E., & Levy, B. R. (2020). Global reach of ageism on older persons’ health: A systematic review. PloS one15(1), e0220857.https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0220857&utm_source=STAT+Newsletters&utm_campaign=d15b0efe12-MR_COPY_02&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_8cab1d7961-d15b0efe12-149563537

Deusdad, B. A., Pace, C., & Anttonen, A. (2016). Facing the challenges in the development of long-term care for older people in Europe in the context of an economic crisis. Journal of Social Service Research42(2), 144-150.https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/01488376.2015.1133147

Kampfe, C. M. (2015). Counseling older people: Opportunities and challenges.https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=SRYqBgAAQBAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PR3&dq=challenges+faced+by+older+people&ots=1fdAu4eLJl&sig=eXpg2U7r5Tv24WzxtF1L9GdB-F8

Lin, D., & Cui, J. (2021). Transport and mobility needs for an ageing society from a policy perspective: Review and implications. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health18(22), 11802.https://www.mdpi.com/1660-4601/18/22/11802

Mental health - age UK. www.ageuk.org.uk. (2019). Retrieved February 28, 2023, from https://www.ageuk.org.uk/globalassets/age-uk/documents/policy-positions/health-and-wellbeing/ppp_mental_health_england.pdf

Musselwhite, C., & Curl, A. (2018). Geographical perspectives on transport and ageing. Geographies of transport and ageing, 3-24.https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-3-319-76360-6_1

Phillips, J., & McGee, S. (2018). Future ageing populations and policy. Geographies of transport and ageing, 227-250.https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-3-319-76360-6_10

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